Mexican red-kneed tarantula

Brachypelma smithi

Mexican red-kneed tarantulas are one of the world's 900 species of tarantulas. They live in deserts in southwest Mexico and are carnivores.

Did you know?

  • Tarantulas' name derives from the southern Italian town of Taranto. In the Middle Ages near Taranto, it was believed that this spider's bite would cause tarantism, a disorder that caused excitability; the only cure was to dance a frenzied dance called the tarantella.
  • All spiders have venom. Tarantula venom is equivalent to a bee sting; the venom will not kill a person, unless they have an allergic reaction to it.

Tarantula behavior and facts

  • Tarantulas prey on insects and small animals. They carve burrows into the soil from which they ambush passing prey.
  • From their abdomen and back legs, Mexican red-kneed tarantulas can knock off urticating hairs that sting a potential predator. They also rear up on their back legs as a defense mechanism.
  • Tarantulas must molt (shed their skin) in order to grow. They can also regrow a lost leg during a molt. Fangs are shed with the skin.

From birth to death

  • Lifespan: males 7 to 8 years; females 20 to 25 years

Vital statistics

  • Body length: up to 2.5 inches
  • Leg span: up to 4 inches


Not listed

Tarantulas, the Oregon Zoo and you

Tarantulas live in the Insect Zoo, where they enjoy a diet of crickets.